ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting Solre-le-Château, France: an unusual, leaning church tower in gently undulating Little Switzerland of the North

Updated on March 26, 2012
Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
Solre-le-Château and the surrounding countryside
Solre-le-Château and the surrounding countryside | Source
Solre-le-Château - church and town hall
Solre-le-Château - church and town hall | Source
Map location of Nord department, France
Map location of Nord department, France | Source

Quaint, basically

As you approach Solre-le-Château, in northern France, it dominates the view. When you are in the town, it's the most conspicuous thing that you see. Once you have left the town, it is what is most likely to remain indelibly marked in one's memory.

The object in question is a church tower. It is striking in appearance. This is for more than one reason.

First of all, it has been the tallest building in the town for centuries. It remains so.

Then it is because it has a curious, bulbous shape, not unlike that of the better known Collegiate church in Dinant, in neighbouring Belgium.

Finally, it is because if you look closely at the church tower in Solre-le-Château, it will be apparent that it leans slightly. (A local historian has even claimed that the tower of this 16th century church was made to lean deliberately. But that is another story... .)

All these factors doubtless make the town and its church stand out in the mind of the visitor.

The town on the Solre River is situated in the Nord department of France, not far from the border with Belgium, in an area known as Avesnois. This area also carries the unofficial name of Little Switzerland of the North (French: Petite Suisse du Nord ), the word 'North', here, in the this informal title, referring to the Nord , i.e., North, department of France. The visitor may consider a number of features: the verdant pasture land, the gently undulating countryside as its topography merges into that of the nearby Ardennes, the unhurried pace of life and the existence of quaint structures such as Solre-le-Château's bulbous, leaning church tower. Thus he or she will readily be able to grasp why the allusion to Switzerland is suggested by various local features.

Be this as it may, the church at Solre-le-Château was built of bluestone. In 1611, a fire necessitated the replacement of the tower, which, when rebuilt, took on its characteristic leaning propensity. Accidentally; on purpose: who knows what really happened ... ?

Right, so now for the question which everyone has been wanting to ask: where is the château at Solre-le-Château? Well, this is easy: there isn't one. Not for the two centuries since the French Revolution, in fact, has there been a château at Solre-le-Château, because it was destroyed in the Revolutionary violence. (As was so much else, but, again, that is another story ... .)

Also worth seeing

In Solre-le-Château itself, there is a striking town hall (French: Mairie ) adjacent to the church with the leaning tower.

Sars-Poteries (distance: 5.4 kilometres) has a longstanding ceramics industry, which sometimes makes available pottery for purchase by tourists.

Avênes-sur-Helpe (distance: 15 kilometres) is an historic town with a large church tower, which dominates the horizon.

Beaumont , Belgium (distance: 14 kilometres), which suffered greatly in war, over the centuries, has the Medieval Salamandre tower.


How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), from where car rental is available. Brussels is the nearest large airport Solre-le-Château (distance: 107 kilometres). Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)